CIA didn’t violate Plame’s speech rights, 2nd Circuit rules

Friday, November 13, 2009

NEW YORK — A federal appeals court in New York said yesterday that the CIA did not violate Valerie Plame Wilson's free-speech rights.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a 2007 lower court decision in its ruling in Wilson v. Central Intelligence Agency. The decision barred Plame, a former CIA officer, from revealing the length of her tenure with the CIA in her 2007 memoir Fair Game: My Life as a Spy, My Betrayal by the White House.

The three-judge appeals panel agreed that the CIA made a good argument to keep the information secret and that it would not “second-guess” the agency.

Plame's identity was revealed in Robert Novak’s syndicated newspaper column in 2003 after her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, began criticizing the war in Iraq.

She and Simon & Schuster Inc., the publisher of her memoir, sued the CIA in 2007. They claimed they had a constitutional right to publish her dates of employment.

Judge Reena Raggi wrote for the majority: “In sum, the CIA has advanced ‘good reason’ to maintain any pre-2002 Agency service by Ms. Wilson as classified and to prevent the inclusion of such information in her memoir.”

Raggi added: “Ms. Wilson — like every other current and former Agency employee who has signed a Secrecy Agreement — ‘simply has no first amendment right to publish’ the information here at issue, regardless of how ‘public’ her past activities appear to have become.”